Weekly News Roundup: May 18-May 22, 2009

In art, antiques and collectibles news is a not-so-original poem by Bob Dylan, antiquities heading home to Italy and a rarely seen painting by Diego Rivera going under the hammer.

Dylan ''poem'' on sale was actually Hank Snow song.

Dylan ''poem'' on sale was actually Hank Snow song.

From Reuters:

Dylan “poem” on sale was actually Hank Snow song

As reported earlier in the week, a poem written by Bob Dylan when he was still Bobby Zimmerman is being auctioned to help the capital campaign of the summer camp he attended as a kid. EXCEPT, it turns out the poem about pitiful little Buddy the dog were largely lyrics written by Hank Snow, a Canadian singer who began his career in the 1930s as “Hank, the Yodeling Ranger.”

Despite this, Christie’s is going ahead with the June 23 auction, keeping the estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. As the auction house sees it, “This still remains among the earliest known handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan, and Christie’s is pleased to offer them in our Pop Culture auction . . .”

From Bloomberg:
Swiss Gallery Surrenders EU2 Million in Antiquities to Italy

Here is yet another case of objects being returned to the country from which they were stolen. This time it’s a Switzerland-to-Italy repatriation of 251 items looted from burial sites and Etruscan tombs. The Italian art squad had dubbed the operation “Phoenix.” The unidentified gallery joins the J. Paul Getty Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art in packing up antiquities and sending them home.

From Forbes:
Diego Rivera Self-Portrait Worth $1 Million?

Christie’s has high hopes—$1 million high—that a self-portrait by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera will sell May 28. The portrait has a storied background. An American businessman commissioned paintings by Rivera and his off-again, on-again wife, Frida Kahlo, in 1939. She got hers done quickly. Rivera didn’t working seriously on his until 1941when he was ensconced in the California studio of sculptor Frances Rich. Frances’ mother, Irene Rich (an actress who appeared in numerous movies starting in the Silent Era), wanted the painting for herself. So Rivera painted a second one—the one up for sale—for the businessman.

It should be noted that Salma Hayek played Kahlo in a 2002 movie. Today Hayek is married to the son of François Pinault, who happens to own Christie’s.

Henry Moore's "Reclining Figure" was stolen in 2005. Police believe the bronze statue, worth $4.6 million, was melted down and sold for scrap for about $4,000.

Henry Moore's "Reclining Figure" was stolen in 2005. Police believe the bronze statue, worth $4.6 million, was melted down and sold for scrap for about $4,000.

From The Guardian:
Mystery of the Stolen Moore Solved

You have to look at it from the thieves’—albeit-not-too-bright—perspective. In December 2005, you make off with two tons of bronze, leaving police mystified for more than three years. You cut it down to a more manageable size—it was 10 feet long and weighed two-and-half tons. When English police finally figured out what happened, it was estimated you cleared about $4,000 for the scrap metal.

So why was it believed a $10,000 reward was issued for the metal’s return? It might have had something to do with you having stolen a Henry Moore statue, “Reclining Figure,” from the Moore Foundation in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, England. And how much was the statue worth? Try $4.6 million.

From Bloomberg:
Testa Rossa Overtakes Another Ferrari for $12.2 Million Record

A 1957 Ferrari racer zoomed ahead of any other car ever sold at auction when it was hammered down at more than $12 million at the “Ferrari Leggenda e Passione” in Italy. The 250 Testa Rossa beat out a 1961 Ferrari California Spyder once owned by actor James Coburn. That car sold last year for $10.9 million to English radio and television personality, Chris Evans. Ferrari only produced 22 Testa Rossas of this model.

From The Associated Press via The Denver Post:
NY Auction House Offers Poem by a Young Bob Dylan

More than likely, a poem penned by 16-year-old Bob Zimmerman at summer camp—about a Little Buddy, a dog killed by a drunk, no less—would get much attention 52 years later. But that poignant piece will be auctioned at Christie’s next month with an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000 because Zimmerman changed his name to Dylan and went on to make music history. A fellow camper had fortuitously kept the poem with other memorabilia. Dylan gave the OK to sell it, and proceeds will go toward the camp’s capital campaign.

From Bloomberg:
Mogul’s $3 Million Paddle Battle Lands Bitter Bidders in Court

A shipping magnate bid $3 million by telephone for a 1954 Sam Francis painting sold in Christie’s contemporary art auction May 13. Gregory Callimanopulos says the auctioneer announced to the attending crowd, which included tennis legend John McEnroe and Hollywood heavyweight Michael Ovitz, that the bid was accepted. However, according to the auctioneer, a paddle went up with a bid of $3.2 million. Sold.

Except not so fast. Callimanopulos’ representative at the auction said she saw no paddle raised, which why the battle of the paddle has landed in District Court.

From The (Springfield, Mass.) Republican:
Shoppers throng antiques shows

If the country is in recession, someone forgot to tell the antiques and collectibles hunters swarming over the 50th Brimfield Antiques Shows in Brimfield, Mass. The highway into town is bumper to bumper. The parking lots are full. And people are buying. It’s a “record-breaking Year,” one dealer said.


Batman No. 1

From The Associated Press via The Denver Post:
‘Golden Age’ comics go up for auction in Dallas

It looks like the care a little kid took with the comic books he bought for 10 cents each is going to pay off—big time. Ralph Chicorel, now 78, is putting his collection of more than 100 up for sale. Heritage Auction will be auctioning them off starting Thursday (May 21), and it’s estimated the comics from the 1930s and 1940s will fetch in the neighborhood of $500,000.

Among the most prized are “Batman” No. 1, “Marvel Comics” No. 1. and “Marvel Mystery Comics” No. 9, which could bring in $100,000 alone. It is rare and features the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch in mortal combat on the cover.

S&P Cuts Sotheby’s Bonds to Junk Status

While last week’s contemporary-art auction went well for Sotheby’s, it probably didn’t soften the blow dealt at the beginning of the month by Standard & Poor’s, the credit-rating agency. S&P dropped the auction house to a BB-minus, a “junk grade.” It cited the reduced demand for art globally and Sotheby’s granting guarantees to sellers.

To add to Sotheby’s woes, this new rating may cause trouble with its lenders, increasing its interest rates and decreasing how much it can borrow.

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